Washington, D. C.
May 8, 1864.
MY DEAR C——:
I have received and read with great pleasure your long letter about the good fortune that has come to you.1 I congratulate you very heartily and say God bless you and her whom you have chosen.
I knew her very intimately when I was in Springfield, and have rarely met anyone so young who was so sensible, so good and true. I think I have never known a girl more sincere and conscientious. It is with none but the brightest anticipations and hopes for your future that I congratulate you and her.
I do not know whether you have yet made up your minds as to time and seasons. I want very much to see you and talk over a thousand things that it is inconvenient to write about. I hope that you will conclude to delay for a while the consummation of your intentions. You are both very young. You can of course trust each other fully. I doubt if you will ever meet a nicer girl anywhere, and I think it will puzzle her to find a better fellow. So now in your jolly youth, you had better wait awhile, don't you think? You will be a Captain some of these fine mornings. You are now third on the list of Lieutenants. Why not wait that long at least?
Although I know nobody whom I would sooner have chosen for a sister than her you have chosen for me, I cannot think of losing you, my dear boy, without a feeling of sadness. We have not been very much together, but we have been friends as well as brothers, and so the past is very much endeared to me. The woods and hills of dear old Warsaw, the rivers of Florida and the sands of South Carolina are all fastened on my heart by your companionship. Although I liked Col. W.2 very much, I was miserable at losing Mary Hay, and now you are about to obey the universal law and pass out of our exclusive possession. Of course I rejoice with you and applaud your choice. I am glad you have chosen so early and so wisely. But our home grows more desolate day by day as all of your dear ones leave it, not to return. I believe Gus and I, some of these days, will come back to Warsaw, jolly old cumberers of the ground, and pass with Father and Mother the last quiet days of their green old age. And you and yours will always be joyfully welcomed in my heart and my home.
1 Charles Hay married Mary Ridgely, May, 1865.
2 Mary Hay married Col. Woolfolk.
SOURCES: Clara B. Hay, Letters of John Hay and Extracts from Diary, Volume 1, p. 192-4; Michael Burlingame, Editor, At Lincoln’s Side: John hay’s Civil War Correspondence and Selected Writings, p. 181-2.